The Daily Banter

Fighting a Nonexistent Obama in the Post-Reality Era

My Tuesday column tackles the most popular activity in American politics: attacking an Obama that simply doesn't exist.

I hate to beat this to death, but the more I think about Clint Eastwood's convention performance art, the more I'm convinced he's a satirical genius. The idea of attacking a a nonexistent (or invisible) Barack Obama is perhaps one of the most popular activities in American politics, and Eastwood might have accidentally stumbled onto this previously nameless past-time. It's everywhere -- and not just the purview of doddering old men.

Yesterday, I engaged in a very brief Twitter exchange with John Heilemann, cohort to Mark Halperin and co-author of Game Change. I noticed an article in which Heilemann asserted that President Obama not only "hates" (my word) people but he also "hates" (also my word) politics. I blurted something about it on, and Heilemann responded via Twitter. Continued here.

  • bphoon

    GOP recipe for presidential campaign:
    1) Imbue opposition President with non-existent magical powers
    2) Repeatedly denigrate him for not employing same
    3) Ignore–or deny–facts on the ground
    4) Engage in semantic arguments to divert attention from facts on the ground
    5) Lose election

    • IrishGrrrl

      um….#5 is not set in stone just yet……..

      • bphoon

        Granted, but that’s the way it played out in ’08 and I don’t see them doing anything differently this time around so far.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Good article, Bob, but I’ve got to disagree with you on something. I don’t think the absence of liking necessarily indicates the presence of hating, any more than the absence of hating indicates the presence of liking. Liking and hating are separate emotions.

    People often ask me if I “like” this or that band, or team, or movie, or whatever else that I have never heard, seen, watched, or was even aware existed. “Do you like [X]?” is the yes/no question where, if I know nothing about [X] or don’t know who or what [X] is, has to be answered in the negative. I cannot feel a liking for something with which I have no experience. I don’t “like” [X] because I have no feelings of any kind toward [X].

    Of course, the obvious solution to the yes/no question is to avoid it by asking “Who?” or saying “I’ve never heard of it.” But it would not be untruthful to answer “No,” which is part of my point. If I answer truthfully and literally that I “don’t like” [X], can the person who asked the question reasonably infer that I hate [X]?

    It works the other way as well. We heard this a lot during the 2000s. Do you like President Bush? No? That means you hate him, and therefore hate America. Do you hate Saddam Hussein? No? That means you like him and therefore like The Terrorists™.

    The absence of liking does not indicate the presence of hating.

    • mrbrink

      Ah, but does the presence of dislike assume the absence of hate?

      Mind eruption!

    • Bob Cesca

      Oh I totally conceded to Heilemann on the “doesn’t like” versus “hate” thing. I misquoted him in the literal sense, so… point Heilemann. But I stand by my overall analysis re: politics/people.

      • bphoon

        Great post, Bob. I really enjoy your willingness to point out truths and call out idiots. Should be more of this going on in the media in general.

        Graf, I really respect your insight into pretty much anything you care to post on and I completely understand your argument. However, diverting a conversation into the black hole of a semantic argument is a well-worn and proven way to get a conversation off of a sensitive topic. My wife does it All. The. Fucking. Time. Let yourself get too deep into it and by the time you wind your way back to the topic at hand, nobody can remember what it was. Not that I’m saying that’s what you’re doing–this just reminds me of that.

        The GOP knows that most people’s attention span for things political is comparable to a gnat’s so anything they can do to divert attention away from uncomfortable truths they’ll do. A semantic pissing contest is a favorite. Also a favorite of so-called journalists who don’t really know what they’re doing (ie, Heileman and Halperin).

  • mrbrink

    I saw that interview with Woodward on ABC and couldn’t believe that I was actually hearing him blame Obama for the breakdown in negotiations and the “poisoning of the well.”

    This is the recurring meme: It’s president Obama’s fault he hasn’t worked more honorably with Republicans at making himself a one term president.

    “Dominate the congress.”

    How do you negotiate with right wing terrorists?

    • IrishGrrrl

      Mrbrink, every time I see Woodward on TV Iwant to smack him upside the head. The backasswards logic of this meme just blows my mind.

      • mrbrink

        Woodward’s logic: Democrats are just as much to blame because they didn’t leave the doors open at the Watergate.

        It’s like someone ripping out whole chapters of history to tell a bed time story to a nation of children about a wonderfully gregarious holy man named Satan.

        Attention, American politics. Bob just finished your homework for you– again. You’re welcome.

        • IrishGrrrl

          I am getting hammered on a Yahoo news article about the book because I likened Woodward’s logic to this: You have a barn and someone sets it on fire. You call 911 but they don’t answer until 8 hours later. You try your hardest to put the fire out but you’re only able to do so much. By the time they finally answer your barn is burned down. So a local reporter blames you for the fire because 911 didn’t answer the phone. Never mind the asshat who set the fire. Never mind 911 who didn’t respond. It’s all you. It boggles.

          • mrbrink

            I vote for boggles.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Shorter Woodward:

      If democrats make a mess, it’s their fault.

      If republicans make a mess, it’s the democrats’ fault for not stopping them.

      • mrbrink

        Even shorter Woodward: Hey, man! How’d everybody get so tall?!

    • nicole

      I can’t even believe he wrote that crap.

  • roxsteady

    Excellent post Bob! I get so sick of the Game Change twins who go on Morning Doubebag and repeat this same nonsense that their host Jethro Scarborough spews – that “Obama hate politics” or “he’s not as skilled at it as Bill Clinton” all the while forgetting that Clinton was bullied into passing DADT and DOMA and was impeached by the Republicans. I’ve never understood how any of these people can give such insites into the President’s psyche when NONE OF THEM HAS EVER INTERVIEWED HIM! I will say this, I’ve noticed that since he became President, Obama has not gone on Morning Joe. He did major interviews over the years with CNN and even fox but, hasn’t once gone back on that awful show since he was elected. It’s a big kiss my ass to that dick! Scarborough and the Game Change twins and even Woodward seem to blame Obama for the GOP’s refusal to work with him even after he reached out to them repeatedly. If I’ve repeatedly extended my hand to you and you’ve repeatedly slapped it away, HOW THE HELL IS THAT MY FAULT? IDIOTS!

  • Razor

    Re: Heilmann, Obama is Ned Stark: a good, honorable, thoughtful man wrapped up in a land of bloodshed and absurdity. Clinton is Tyrion Lannister: he realizes the absurdity of the world as well, but plays the Game of Thrones better than anyone.

    I don’t know where I’m going with this, I just really wanted to make a Game of Thrones reference. Is it April yet?

    • Draxiar

      And the entire GOTP is Joffrey Baratheon.

      • D_C_Wilson

        Republicans are Queen Cersei and Fox is her brother Jaime Lannister: Locked is a sick, incestuous relationship as they scheme for power.